McConnell Reservists build resiliency, camaraderie through Wingman, Family Day events

  • Published
  • By Capt. Zach Anderson
  • 931st Air Refueling Group Public Affairs

Members of the Air Force Reserve 931st Air Refueling Group took on a series of challenging tasks and obstacles as part of the Group's annual "Wingman Day," which was conducted at the Kansas Air National Guard's 184th Intelligence Wing facilities, McConnell Air Force Base, Kan., July 13.

Wingman Day is a day set aside to focus on the pillars of Comprehensive Airman Fitness:  Physical, mental, social and spiritual.  Comprehensive Airman Fitness is built around the concept of helping Airmen and their family members become more resilient as well as supportive of each other.

In the past, Wingman Day at the 931 ARG had been generally conducted with briefings and facilitated group discussions.  This year, however, Group members were instead put into teams and presented with a series of challenges focused on building teamwork, trust and resiliency.

"We wanted to go beyond briefings and lectures and provide our members with some practical applications of the wingman concept," said Col. Mark S. Larson, 931 ARG commander.  "By presenting challenges that had to be overcome with teamwork and trust, we were better able to build the camaraderie and strong relationships that are needed throughout a military unit."

Group members were divided into several teams and sent to take on various obstacles, including a 1.5 mile course dubbed "The Amazing Race," during which members conducted trust falls and accomplished other tasks to build teamwork and camaraderie.

"This really takes the wingman concept of the Air Force and makes it tangible," said Master Sgt. Brannen Parrish, 931 ARG historian.  "One of the keys to this event was the fact that we got members out of their comfort zones and put them on teams with individuals they don't normally work with.  That really encouraged interaction and helped to build relationships throughout the group."

According to Larson, the entire purpose of Wingman Day is to promote a culture of Airmen taking care of Airmen.

"Part of being a member of the Air Force is the responsibility to be vigilant Airmen and take care of each other," said Larson.  "Wingman Day provides a way to reinforce that concept and build resilient Airmen."

The Wingman Day events were followed by the Group's annual Family Day picnic, during which unit members were encouraged to bring their family members to the base to enjoy an afternoon of food and fellowship together.  Airmen and their families were able to take in an antique car show, enjoy pony rides and a petting zoo, play volleyball, and even had a chance to soak their unit commanders in a dunk tank.

Larson said he was very pleased with both events and greatly appreciative of the work of the Group volunteers who coordinated the day.

"The Wingman Day and Family Day picnic were two of our most successful teambuilding and unit cohesion events to date," said Larson.  "I know it took a tremendous amount of time and effort by several individuals to make this happen, and I'm personally thankful to each of those members who selflessly helped put this together and make it such an enjoyable and productive experience for all.  Additionally, my thanks goes to those who stepped up to volunteer and serve on the wingman and family day committees, as well as those who volunteered to serve as event facilitators throughout the day.  Of course, none of this happens without the incredible outpouring of support by our senior NCO leadership and first sergeants, particularly our Group Superintendent, Chief Master Sgt. Kathy Lowman, as well as Senior Master Sgt. Willie Tucker and Master Sgt. Scott Flaherty.  Additionally, my thanks to the leadership of the Kansas Air National Guard's 184th Intelligence Wing, who generously allowed us to use their outstanding facilities to conduct these events"